The minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday, October 5, updated President Muhammadu Buhari on the proposed and ongoing railway projects across the country including the Kano – Maradi (Niger Republic) rail project.
Addressing State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister said the president was pleased with developments in the transport sector, NAN reports.
According to him, President Buhari “sleeps and wakes up’’ thinking about the railway system, adding that the president has made concerted effort to fix the railways, to ease transportation of persons and goods across the country.
“The President sleeps and wakes up thinking about our railways; therefore I must always see him and tell him how far we have gone. Once he hears the progress that is being made, he feels happy.
He is also very pleased with what we have done in terms of the narrow gauge; between now and December we should ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge; we are bringing in more locomotives; we are bringing in more coaches and wagons, to ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge. `
“In terms of the narrow gauge, if not for a hitch, we would have commenced trucking cargo form Apapa seaport to Ebute-Metta-Lagos and take away the challenges we are having with that Apapa grid and bad road. That will happen before December,” Amaechi said.
The minister announced that the federal government would take delivery of 17 new coaches and locomotives between now and December to boost rail transportation across the country.
He stated that 10 of the locomotive were meant for Abuja- Kaduna rail line while the remaining seven would go to Itakpe – Warri rail project, which he said would be ready by June 2018.
“We are expecting 10 for Kaduna-Abuja axis and another seven, which will hopefully go to Itakpe – Warri because we believe that by June, that axis should also come alive,’’ he said.
Amaechi further revealed that about 16 billion dollars (N5.76 trillion) is needed to actualise some of the Federal Government’s plans for the railway sector, especially the construction of two deep seaports in Bonny, Rivers State and Warri, Delta State; as well as the Port Harcourt Railway Industrial Park.
The minister disclosed that there were plans to also dredge the Calabar seaport, through Public Private Partnership.
He expressed the hope that the problem of gridlock on the road leading to Apapa port in Lagos would be over by December.
Amaechi said once the railway system starts operating there will be economic boost.
The minister also promised that the rail line will start running before the end of this year.